Social connections are important to happiness, health (physical and mental) and overall feelings of connectivity to society. It has dynamic characteristics of evolving social actions between individuals or groups. Knowing we are valued by others is an important psychological factor in shaping our self-esteem and individuality. It also helps in thinking positively about our environment. Studies have proven that those with strong bonds with family, friends and community, are happier and have lesser health issues. Social interaction thus helps in remaining mentally agile and everyone requires it no matter how asocial one may be.
After an extensive lockdown during Covid-19 worldwide, one does not need research-based evidence to appreciate social connections and interactions. Isolation caused people to suffer enormously from mental health issues as humans are social by nature and crave contact. We need others for support, well-being and entertainment and Covid-19 changed the way we do things especially our social connections.
For nearly a year now we have kept ourselves socially and physically distant, avoided touching surfaces and wore protective gear. However, it has been difficult to adapt to the new changes which requires setting aside a lifetime’s worth of learned societal norms of human interaction and communication. Physical contact is part of our relationships and we are now entering a world where such ingrained habits may come to an end. This is a cause for real stress for many as nothing compares to living in real communities and spending actual physical time with your loved ones.
Long before Covid-19, a 2010 report by the Journal of Health and Social Behavior indicated that low quality and quantity of social ties includes the development and worsening of cardiovascular disease, autoimmune disorders, blood pressure and cancer. Post-Covid-19 will lead to even lesser social and professional human interaction. It has become common to work from home, alone and secluded from colleagues. Despite companies ensuring web-based communication, it is doubtful whether socialisation levels when working from home can ever match those when working from office. We have virtually no time and space left for in-person interaction. Moreover, children have been pulled out from schools and daycares and forced to isolate from their peers, which is an important aspect of child development.
The sense of community membership which helped provide support to individuals who are impacted by day-to-day stress, and chaos of life will quickly disappear. Before we would not even think twice about the number of times we made physical contact with other humans. But now there is likely to be confusion as we try to adapt to the new normal and learn to remain social yet physically distant, something that will demand a great deal of acceptability and appropriation. Society has struggled to navigate social scenarios, be it taking turns, conversation skills, emotion regulation and expression, or frustration tolerance — all of which are foundational to a healthy living.
The problem, however, does not end here as another aspect which may create problems in the future is transitioning back to normalcy which may be too much to handle after several months of being told that leaving the house, in some countries, is illegal and puts one in danger. Recovery will not be easy and will require carefully planned and crafted mechanisms in place to support getting back to how life used to be. And the reverberations of how lost socialisation opportunities during Covid-19 have affected generations across the world will only be felt in years to come.
This article was originally published at: https://tribune.com.pk/story/2278835/a-case-for-lost-interactions
The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.